Some of the soldiers who were injured in the crash involving a crash involving a UPDF helicopter have recuperated, the Commander of the Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba has said.
A UPDF Mi-17 helicopter, which is mainly used for transportation, medical evacuation and VIP travel, that had just delivered food consignment to the troops engaged in Operation Shujaa in Eastern DRC tumbled and exploded during take-off.
Several soldiers died on spot whereas others sustained various injuries and were later airlifted to Bombo Military Hospital for treatment back home in Uganda .
On Friday, a team from land forces led by the Chief of Staff, Brig Bob Ogiki visited the injured soldiers.
Speaking about the development, Lt Gen Muhoozi said the officers are recovering well.
“Our soldiers involved in the helicopter accident are making great progress and some have already been discharged. They have received excellent health care services at the General Military Hospital Bombo and in Kampala from our partner healthcare service providers,” Lt Gen Muhoozi said on Friday.
Quoting sources, Daily Monitor reported on Wednesday that the ill-fated chopper could not land in DRC on its first attempt because the cleared landing zone on the ground was smaller than the recommended 50 by 50 metre area.
“The pilots were radioed to return on the understanding that the landing area had been expanded, and the helicopter landed smoothly. However, during lift-off, the tail rotor hit a tree, yanking the machine to spin before slamming to the ground,” Daily Monitor reported.
A board of inquiry has since been ordered by President Museveni led by the Uganda People’s Defence Air Force (UPDAF) Deputy Commander, Maj Gen Charles Okidi into the incident that led to a great loss by the Ugandan army in terms of experienced pilot and crew as well as the chopper which was part of the country’s arsenal.
However, investigators will be scratching their heads so much to get to the top of the problem since Yury Vyshykvy, Ukrainian national who was in charge of the chopper was so much experienced not only as a pilot but also as an instructor.
The incident came on the backdrop of another UPDF chopper that suffered an emergency landing on Saturday in Fort Portal, shortly after taking off from Saaka airfield.
The chopper has since been repaired by UPDF engineers and returned to the skies.
Since 2020, four UPDF choppers have been involved in accidents with some being fatal whereas others were minor emergency landings.
The accidents including two in February 2021, six days apart involving a UPDF Jet Ranger that crashed near Lido Beach in Entebbe after takeoff and killed a trainee whereas a chopper transporting AMISOM troops from Balidogle to Lower Shabelle region in Somalia crashed shortly after take off .
Four soldier on board survived.
In January 2020 a UPDF jet ranger crashed and killed two people including Maj Naomi Kalungi and Cadet pilot Benon Wakola in Butambala.
Whereas inquiries into these crashes are commissioned, resultant reports are not made public.